Anyone who feels like they had the world's strictest parents needs to meet Cliff and Lisa Bolton, the stubborn but loving duo from CMT's World's Strictest Parents. The Boltons, who refer to themselves as Coach B and Miss B, adhere to all of the discipline rules in the book -- times ten -- and have added their own. In our exclusive interview, the Boltons explain why kids want to be disciplined.
Did you already have a reputation for being the World's Strictest Parents?
Coach B: Well, we're pretty strict. Not mean-strict.
Miss B: I have a 23-year-old daughter now. In junior high and high school, all the other moms would call me and say, "Are you letting your daughter do this?" We were the moral compass, and that's a heavy burden.
Coach B: The key is to do it without being judgmental. We all have had our struggles as parents.
Miss B: We're not perfect.
Coach B: Speak for yourself!
Miss B: But we ended up feeling like the bad guys a lot, when people would use us as an excuse to not let their own kids do things or go places. But popularity's not number one our list.
Coach B says in the show, "I don't need any teenage friends." That was a big moment for me. I think that's where a lot of parents mess up. They want to be best friends with their kids, no matter what.
Coach B: Parents and teachers.
But most parents do want to be friends with their kids, and I'm sure you guys are, sometimes. How do you balance that?
Miss B: Well any friendship is built on trust.
Coach B: And love.
Miss B: And security. So our children are raised, knowing they're loved, secure, you know. And all good relationships have boundaries, I don't care if you're a kid or an adult. But we are friends with our children when they are young, their number one friends they can go to.
Have your kids ever been afraid to tell you anything, since you're so strict?
Coach B: Sometimes they didn't tell us because they were afraid of disappointing us. They've been good and eager to please us most of their lives. Kids don't want to disappoint their parents. I was the same way, I didn't want to let my parents down. I was afraid of disappointment.
Your kids are used to your strictness. But Aja and Alex, the kids who come to stay with you, were not. There was a part where Aja said, "Fine, I'll just stand here (in the goat pen) all day," instead of doing what you told her to do. I was freaking out, thinking, "Oh my God, she is really just going to stand there all day. What are they going to do?"
Miss B: I cracked up when that happened. Coach B loves to be out in that goat pen. I told Aja, "If you think you're going to win this battle, you won't. First of all, he's more stubborn than you, and second of all, he loves standing out here all day. You're doing what he loves. This is not a good choice.
Coach B: I was thinking, thanks!
She surprised me when she gave in.
Coach B: She surprised us, too.
Are your kids ever defiant? Do they ever say, "No, I'm not doing the push ups"?
Coach B: No.
Miss B: The producers asked us at the beginning what we did when our kids didn't listen to us, and we didn't know what to say, because they always do. Once, though, we told our son Caleb he could not go to this venue with his band. We said, "You cannot live in our house if you go." He went anyway. And when he got back the next morning, his dad literally threw his clothes in the yard and we said, "No. You're out. This is the consequence of your action. We meant it. This is not a revolving door." I'll never forget the look on his face of total dismay. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. I sat down and cried; it broke my heart beyond breaking. But it was a lesson that he had to learn, and it was a lesson for us, too. He lived with our other son for about six months. He came back and apologized and I'll never forget his line. He said, "Mom, freedom is overrated. Can I come home?" He's 21 now and he's home, going to school and working, and he's a great kid.
What's one of the best parenting rules you have?
Miss B: We really take control of the choices of friends our kids have. When they start talking about friends, we say, "Bring them over." If we haven't met their parents, they can't go to their friend's house. When Caleb came home with his friends from the music venue and we kicked him out, I was crying and I pointed to his friends and said, "Do you see these boys? If you died they'd cry for one day. I'd cry for a lifetime. They will lie and steal from you."
What did you learn from this experience?
Coach B: I learned that kids do want to be disciplined and loved. I'll tell you what, they're dreaming about love and guidance.
Miss B: They need love, attention and boundaries. They don't know they want it, but they desire it. And at the end of the day, they get it. And they're running around all happy and healthy.